Meta-analysis and The Cochrane Collaboration: 20 years of the Cochrane Statistical Methods Group.
McKenzie JE., Salanti G., Lewis SC., Altman DG.
The Statistical Methods Group has played a pivotal role in The Cochrane Collaboration over the past 20 years. The Statistical Methods Group has determined the direction of statistical methods used within Cochrane reviews, developed guidance for these methods, provided training, and continued to discuss and consider new and controversial issues in meta-analysis. The contribution of Statistical Methods Group members to the meta-analysis literature has been extensive and has helped to shape the wider meta-analysis landscape.In this paper, marking the 20th anniversary of The Cochrane Collaboration, we reflect on the history of the Statistical Methods Group, beginning in 1993 with the identification of aspects of statistical synthesis for which consensus was lacking about the best approach. We highlight some landmark methodological developments that Statistical Methods Group members have contributed to in the field of meta-analysis. We discuss how the Group implements and disseminates statistical methods within The Cochrane Collaboration. Finally, we consider the importance of robust statistical methodology for Cochrane systematic reviews, note research gaps, and reflect on the challenges that the Statistical Methods Group faces in its future direction.